Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Another Natural Disaster

Just about this time last year, I told you how my family's vacations tend to attract natural disasters. I got back from vacation this past Saturday evening to a new twist on that tradition: a natural disaster at the end of the trip, in the form of tornadoes sweeping through my town.

Around 5:45 Sunday morning, the tornado alert sirens woke us up and we headed for the basement. I even managed to get my squirming, protesting cats down there with us. We huddled down there with the alarms sounding for almost an hour. The power went off after about 30 minutes. Honestly, though, the weather didn't sound that bad as we sat there. My town sometimes has a tendency to "cry wolf" with those warnings, so I didn't think it was that bad. Especially when I tuned in our news station around 6:15 and listened for about half an hour to the Sunday Magazine show and the normal five-second weather report, which said we were in for clearing skies and wind gusts. No mention whatsoever of the storm.

Obviously, if anything important had happened, the news station would be all over it, right?

With that thought in mind, I sent my poor friend from Savannah out onto the road for home. She had gone to Florida with us and stayed over Saturday night, intending to make the rest of the trip Sunday morning. I already hated that she had to be there for tornado sirens. She went through a tornado a few years ago. In fact, a tree ended up crashing onto her bed. I hated it even more when I turned on the radio right after she left. NOW the news people had come to life. NOW they managed to tell me that I-16 to Savannah should be avoided at all costs, because it was completely blocked by trees and debris and traffic was backed up for miles. About an hour later, she was back at my house and had to wait until Monday morning to try again.

All the pictures are from my husband's workplace. (And bear in mind that this area was not the hardest hit.)

Our house and my parents' house are, praise God, just fine. The college where I work is a different story. I don't have pictures because people were told to stay away for a couple of days. The buildings mostly had minor damage, but hundreds of trees have been destroyed. The campus was so beautiful, I dread seeing it. My library's director told me that the woods by the lake are basically gone. A bulldozer couldn't have done a better job. The college grounds are designated a botanical garden, and even the parking lots had shady trees up and down the rows. I'm told that most of that is destroyed, as well.

But as my boss said, if it had to happen, 5:30 on a Sunday morning is about the best you can hope for. I am very grateful indeed, for that.